On the surface this seems a fairly simple comparison. It is fairly obvious what the contrast of the wicked and upright is. The classic idea of the wicked is the person who uses black hat methods and is unethical even cruel. Compare this to the upright person who wears the white hat and is moral and kind. The other fairly obvious contrast is the idea of being destroyed or pulled down compared to flourishing or being built up. But a household versus a tent what is that all about?
A household is often seen as something that has a level of permanence especially in ancient wisdom. It is seen as comprising of a number of generations. Some times the word house refers to a generational line that does back 500 years or more. That fairly permanent!
We hear today about the idea that families (or modern households) are the building blocks of a secure society. They are often the first port of call in times of hardship or struggle. They are a mutual interdependence network that strengthens society as a whole. The younger ones supporting the older ones until the older ones need to be supported by the younger ones. Households are supposed to be solid and permanent as they support each together.
Contrast with a tent which is a fragile thing. It provides some protection from the winds the rain and even the sun. However, when things get tough it does not stand up to the elements. It may even blow away in a storm if it is not secured firmly.
Tents are often seen as temporary solutions to the problem of where to live. They can be gathered up and packed into what transport is available. (Try doing that with a house!) They can then be set up in a new location. Tents are not known for their permanence of stability.
Why these pictures?
It is the contrast between the stability of the wicked being destroyed and the fragility of the upright that is supposed to make people sit up and take notice. You would expect the stable thing to flourish and the fragile thing to be destroyed. Yet it what is upright that flourishes even if it is fragile or temporary and the wicked thing that is destroyed even if it seems stable and permanent. Quite a turn around!
One way we express the idea of making mistakes is to throwing good things down the drain or flushing money down the toilet. You can see the connection between being wicked and making mistakes. Of course not all mistakes are wicked but many would say that being wicked is a mistake.
Another link is the idea that a good man i.e. one that is not wicked uses their money to support their family. It is a bit difficult to do that when you have done things that waste your money. If you fritter your money away by gambling or drinking then you don’t have the money to support your family and you may find yourself being called wicked.
The strange thing is that the first thought that I had when I chose the picture of the man carrying something was that he could be carrying gold bullion or other precious metal. It was only later that I realised that those boxes could contain his tent. What he is doing he is a man on the move. He is someone who is able and willing to make something of his life.
How does this apply to Lily’s Place (or even to you)?
The vision of Lily’s Place was so extensive it was crazy. The dream was to provide for just about every need someone in mental distress could have, even those that are currently paid for and provided by central government. It seemed crazy to have been given a dream of what the end product was going to be like, especially one that did things that were already being done.. I mean why would something like lily’s Place need to be raised up to provide things that were already being provided. See what I mean about sounding crazy.
This was when I started to see the possibilities of the future. The economy started to sink. Austerity measures kicked in. The idea that the UK government had borrowed so much money that it would never be able to repay it started to generate real concern.
I had seen the idea of borrowing more and more on a personal scale. People started comparing government borrowing to personal borrowing saying that the same rules and expectations applied to governments as they do to individuals.
That is when it got scary. Could it really be the case that the country could go bankrupt? Could it be that the government would not have the money to pay for the things we once took for granted? Could it be that the government was counted among the wicked because it had debts and did nor pay them back?
We think of governments being like households and lasting for generations. What if they were classed as wicked and destroyed? We would then need the upright to set up tents to help those left unprotected by the major social and economic changes that this would bring.
No one can accurately predict the future. We can take some good guesses though. After that we can take actions that make the future easier no matter whether the future is better or worse than today. The dream of Lily’s Place is to do things today that will make tomorrow easier whether or not it turns out to be disastrous.